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NBA Preview: Injury-riddled Pelicans host championship-favorite Clippers plus get to welcome Paul George back to action

PGIII should make his Clipper debut in New Orleans.

Toronto Raptors v Los Angeles Clippers Photo by Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images

The physically ailing Pelicans will be shorthanded once again as New Orleans will be without Lonzo Ball and Josh Hart, who suffered a sprained left knee and ankle in Monday night’s matchup against the Rockets.

Coming into the Smoothie King Center are the Los Angeles Clippers who are getting healthier instead of more hurt like the Pelicans. The Clippers 1B biggest offseason addition, Paul George, will make his Los Angeles debut Thursday night. George has missed the first 10 games of the season while rehabbing his shoulders from offseason surgeries.

George hasn’t been on the court since his Thunder were eliminated from the postseason at the hands of the Portland Trail Blazers in late April. Despite George’s absence and playing the West’s toughest schedule, the Clippers are winners of seven of their first 10 games thanks in part to reigning Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard, who continues to look like the best two-way player in the NBA.

Leonard is eighth in the league in scoring with 26.9 points but also adds 8.9 rebounds, 6.0 assists and 2.1 steals to his stellar line. His plus/minus is third in the NBA with a +11.3 rating and he’s getting to the free throw line about nine times a game. He’s been every bit as good as he was in San Antonio and Toronto and he’s about to get the best complimentary teammate he could ask for in Paul George.

But it’s not just Leonard who is responsible for Los Angeles’ great start to 2019, it’s the entire hard-working Clipper core. Los Angeles is a good mix of explosive yet physical. The Clippers are just outside the top-10 in points per game with 111.9, yet they’re second in both free throw attempts and makes and fourth in rebounding.

Sure there’s Leonard, and soon Paul George, but there’s fearless players like Montrezl Harrell grabbing seven rebounds a game and Patrick Beverly, who is one of the best rebounding guards in the league. The Clippers also know how to manhandle opponents on the defensive end as LA is seventh in boxing opponents out.

While LA is slated to get one of their marquee pieces back, New Orleans is hopeful for a return of Brandon Ingram (knee soreness) and Jahlil Okafor (left ankle sprain). Both players were listed as questionable on the latest injury report and Ingram is expected to be a game-time decision. Owners of a paltry 2-8 record, the Pelicans could certainly use all the help they can get.

Geaux Pels!

Where To Watch/Listen

What: New Orleans Pelicans (2-8) vs Los Angeles Clippers (7-4)

Where: Smoothie King Center

When: Thursday, November 14, 2019 7:00 PM CDT.